50 Years Ago – March, 1966

By Jim Ignasher

March 1st, 1966, was the first day of classes at Smithfield’s brand new high school on Pleasant View Avenue.  The long awaited opening of the town’s first high school meant that Smithfield teenagers no longer had to attend high school in other towns, which had been the practice for generations.   

Newspaper photographs of the event depicted girls wearing skirts and boys, in some cases, wearing ties, indicating that school dress codes have changed a lot in fifty years.

Speaking of the new school, the Creative Writer’s Club, led by faculty advisor Josephene Zuchowski, held its first meeting where the guidelines of the club were established and members were given their first writing assignment.  It was announced that the club planned to produce four issues of its Liberty Journal during the following school year.   

Two other school clubs, the Tennis Club, and the Folk Music Club, also held meetings.

David Burgess of Stephen Street was one of three top scorers in the Annual High School Mathematics Competition sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America.  

Mrs. Alfred Detri, Chairwoman of Smithfield’s 1966 Easter Seal drive announced that the town’s goal would be to raise $1,200.  (A considerable amount of money in 1966)  For those that don’t know, Easter Seals is a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to helping those with disabilities. 

Others involved with fundraising included Mrs. Walter Cornell, Mrs. Richard Collemer, Mrs. Lloyd Biddle, Mrs. Joan Johnson, Mrs. Ross Toney, Mrs. Mathew A. Fagan, Mrs. Anthony Martone, Mrs. William Bell, Mrs. Kingsley Whipple, Mrs. Charles H. Dailey, Mrs. Everett Johnson, Mrs., Virginia Mercier, and Mrs. Sarah Cardarelli.

The annual meeting and installation dinner of the Rhode Island Fruit Growers Association was held at the Greenville Grange, a building that once stood near Athens Pizza in Greenville. Newly elected president Stephen Steere was sworn into office.  He replaced outgoing president Edgar Steere, who had served in that position for five years.

An advertisement for two apartments on Hill Street in Georgiaville stated they were equipped with “city gas and hot water” – only nine dollars a week!

Another ad offered to take away “old pianos” (all types) and rugs for free.   

Yet another filed under “Miscellaneous” stated; “Jane, I used to hate you. Your rugs always looked younger than mine, but that was before I went to Lou’s Greenville Hardware; 584 Putnam Pike, Greenville, and rented a Glamorene Electric Rug Shampooer for only $2 a day.” 

 “Don’t be caught red handed!” began an advertisement for an electric clothes dryer. “Buy a flameless electric dryer now!”  For a mere $134.95, or $2.60 a month, an RCA – Whirlpool electric dryer could be yours.  Apparently hook-up was extra, for it also read, “Ask about our $75 wiring allowance.” 

The advertiser of the “flameless electric dryer” was Narragansett Electric.

Two used-car ads stated a 1957 Chevy station wagon with manual-shift V-8 could be had for $100, and a 1959 Plymouth wagon for $200. 

In observance of Catholic Book Week at St. Phillip’s School, students were allowed to compete in a design contest for the creation of a “school book plate”.  The winner was 7th grader Gary Bradbury.

Fred Jaswell, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Jaswell, was wounded in action while serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam.  He was brought to Chelsea Naval Hospital in Chelsea, Massachusetts, for treatment.

U.S. Coast Guardsman Arnold P. Cook of Valley View Drive was deployed aboard the cutter Casco, stationed at Ocean Station Echo, 1,500 miles east off the coast of North Carolina.  The ship would spend 30 days that that location before being relieved by another.

Private Wayne D. Jardin of Stillwater Road completed 14 weeks of basic training for the U.S. Marine Corps.     

The St. Patrick’s Bridge and Fashion Show was held March 17th at Anna McCabe School.  Co-Chairwomen of the event were Mrs. Joseph A. Hickey, Jr., and Mrs. John J. Dolan, Jr.

The Smithfield Public School’s Annual Elementary Spelling Bee for grades four through six was held March 18th at Ann McCabe.  The event was moderated by J. Thomas Tobin.  Judges included; Mrs. Marilyn M. Briggs, Robert Graham, and Miss Kathleen Connor. 

Forty-two students participated, and the winner was Jean Langlois, who received a trophy. The runners-up for each grade included John Carraro, (4th grade), Stephen Johnson (5th grade), and Paula Capobianco (6th grade). 

Sharyn O’Leary of Austin Avenue was the 1966 winner of the Betty Crocker Home-maker Award. 

On a related note, the Greenville Home-makers Club met at the Greenville Baptist Church on March 22 for a program titled “Cooking With Your Hat On”.

Donna A. Cooper of Beverly Circle, Greenville, was preparing to compete in the National Bowling Tournament to be held in New Orleans, April 16-18.    

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